There is a specific procedure that landlords must follow in order to legally evict tenants from a property. The specific procedure to follow will depend on the type of tenancy agreement in place and its terms.
The most common type of tenancy agreement is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement which can be sub-categorised into a:
- periodic tenancy where the tenancy is either on a weekly or monthly basis without a fixed end date; or
- fixed term tenancy where the tenancy is set for a specified term with an end date.
In certain circumstances, some tenants may refuse to leave following the end of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy and although the tenancy has ended, a landlord must still serve the tenants with notice to vacate the property. It is important to note that it can be a criminal offence to evict a tenant without following the legal process of obtaining a possession order as any failure to adhere to the eviction process can be deemed to be harassment or an illegal eviction.
How can I start the eviction process?
To begin the eviction process, a landlord must serve a section 21 notice and/or a section 8 notice under the House Act 1988. A notice is given to a tenant to inform the tenant that he/she must vacate the property by the date stipulated in the notice to allow the landlord to gain possession of the property.
A section 21 notice does not require the landlord to provide reasons for the eviction. However, the notice must be in writing and provide the tenant with a minimum of two months’ notice.
If a tenancy was renewed or began on or after 1 October 2015, a section 21 notice must be given via a separate form. A landlord cannot serve a section 21 notice if it has been less than six months since the tenancy began. It is important to note that the end of the two months’ notice must not fall after the end of the fixed term tenancy.
A section 8 notice can be served on tenants who have rent arrears or have broken other terms of the tenancy agreement. This is a lengthy procedure as the tenant has the right to challenge the notice in court.
If you require assistance with serving a section 21 or section 8 notice in order to start the eviction process, please contact us and our team of specialists will provide detailed advice on the next steps to take.
What if the tenant is refusing to leave the property?
If the tenant has not vacated the property by the date specified on the section 21 notice, a landlord can submit an application to the court for a possession order.
The standard possession order is usually used in circumstances where the landlord wants to evict the tenant and also intends on making a claim for rent arrears. The length of standard possession proceedings can vary depending on whether a section 21 notice and/or a section 8 notice was served on the tenant however, proceedings generally can take between four to six months. Once a possession order has been granted, the tenant will usually have 28 days to vacate the property. A standard possession order is a lengthy and complex process and may not be a suitable route for landlords intending to gain possession of their property without delay.
The quickest way to evict a tenant is through the accelerated procedure by applying to the court for an accelerated possession order if the landlord only wants possession of the property.
What is an accelerated possession order?
An accelerated possession order allows landlords to evict tenants much quicker compared to a standard possession order; this route can only be utilised if a section 21 notice was served and as such if a landlord intends on making a claim for rent arrears, this route will not be applicable.
There are a set of requirements that must be met before an application can be submitted to the court for an accelerated possession order. The requirements state that:
- the tenant must hold an assured shorthold tenancy for the property in question;
- the tenancy agreement enforced must be in writing;
- the landlord must serve the tenant with a section 21 notice giving the tenant a minimum of 2 months’ notice;
- the notice served on the tenant cannot request the tenant to vacate the property before the end of the fixed term tenancy; and
- any deposit paid to the landlord after 6 April 2007, must have been paid into a Government approved tenancy deposit scheme.
With the accelerated route, a hearing is usually not required and as such the judge will only have sight of the relevant documents in order to determine whether a possession order can be issued.
Once a claim has been issued, the court will provide the tenant with a full copy of the application and the tenant is thereafter provided with 14 days to respond to the claim and put forth reasons as to why further time should be given to vacate the property. The judge may schedule a hearing if the tenant has provided a defence based on serious grounds. In such cases, it may take four months to obtain a possession order as it may take a considerable amount of time to allocate a hearing date. If, however, the judge deems the claim as valid and the tenant has not provided a defence, then a possession order can be issued within two to three months.
The tenant may be given between 14 to 28 days to vacate the property from the date of the possession order which is commonly referred to as an outright possession order. If the tenant has not vacated the property within the imposed deadline, bailiffs can be instructed to attend the property and evict the tenant.
We understand that the process to evict a tenant can be an extremely tense and frustrating period. Our team of specialist solicitors undertake such applications regularly and as such are best equipped at providing our clients with their desired outcome. We handle claims from start to finish whilst simultaneously keeping our clients constantly involved and providing them with the peace of mind that their legal matter is being dealt with in a professional, efficient and meticulous manner. If you are currently facing a difficult situation with your tenant, please contact us and we will discuss your concerns with you in detail.